Friday, September 15, 2017

A Tale of Two Bridges - Pismo Beach CA

This post is about side by side bridges in Pismo Beach. The coast road was the only thru-road on this part of the coast. The railroad bridge was built in 1909, and the road bridge in 1911. A little bit of history that won't be with us for much longer.

Old Coast Road Bridge
aka "The Bello Street Bridge" or "The Pismo Creek Bridge"

Railroad engineers made sure that the tracks would be laid on the most level ground possible, and take the path of least resistance. Many years later when auto roads were being constructed, they took advantage of the work that RR engineers had already done. As a result, the early roads were usually built very close to existing railroad routes. These two bridges are a good example of this. 

The railroad tracks on the left, and the coastal road on the right. To those of you that have traveled on Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1), or the Hwy 101, along the coast; can you imagine using this little road?

Not much of a road now. I'm looking for some historic photos of what it looked like back then.

 The 1911 coast road bridge

Those of you that have been around here for a long time, know that I would usually take some photos while walking across the bridge. Not this time! It is really rotting away. 

It's not much of a bridge anymore, but it does make a good trellis. 

If you look closely, especially in the upper left side, you can clearly see that this bridge is going to collapse one of these days.

Say what? That doesn't sound very refreshing.

Old Coast RR Bridge

This RR line is still in use.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

San Simeon Point Trail - California Central Coast

In addition to Moonstone Beach and Cambria (my last post), there are many more amazing things to see and experience along Hwy 1 (pacific coast highway). One of those things is the San Simeon Point Trail. Despite being right across the highway from the visitor center for the William Randolph Hearst Castle, this great trail is rarely visited. 
 The trail, pier, and what is left of the little town of San Simeon, is now part of W.R. Hearst SP.

Taken from the trail, this photo shows the little state park. Hearst Castle can also be seen in the upper left hand corner. If you are ever in this area, you MUST see the castle. 

From the parking lot, you turn right at the base of the wharf. 

 At this point, the trail leaves the beach

 obligatory b&w

Sometimes the trail gets a bit close to the cliff edge

and sometimes the trail erodes down the cliff

 at the point

 around the point

Initially, I couldn't see the steer on the right, and for a very tense second or two, I totally thought the one on the left was a bear! 

  • About four miles north on hwy 1, is the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. Older posts here.
  • About one mile further on hwy 1, is Piedras Blancas Light House.
  • Hearst Castle is right across the road (hwy 1). I will post something on this place soon.
  • About 7 miles south on hwy 1, is Moonstone Beach/Cambria (from my last post).
  • Morro Bay/Morro Rock is about 30 miles south on hwy 1) also a must see. Old post here.
  • The 150 mile coastline from here to Monterey is gorgeous. Further, the 25.-30 mile stretch in the Big Sur area, is quite possibly the most beautiful and rugged coastline in the country (if not the world). At this moment hwy 1 is closed in the Big Sur area due to a major landslide.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Moonstone Beach - California Central Coast

Moonstone beach is actually part of the little and amazing town of Cambria (Latin for Wales). Although Moonstone beach has some small hotels, and a few restaurants, it is mostly known for it's beach. It's not really the kind of beach that comes to mind when most people think of beaches in southern/central California. Yes, you can swim, surf, stroll on the boardwalk and sunbathe there. You can also find moonstones. More on moonstones later. 

You already know that no matter where I am, I'm always on the lookout for evidence that Indians lived in an area. I just happened to stumble upon some of it right here. More on that later also.

These mortars were almost in plain site. After I spotted them, I had to wait for about 20 people to pass before I could actually get to them, and take these photos. Everyone of the people who passed it, saw nothing. I've asked many people I know if they've ever seen any mortars here. Every one of them said they hadn't. 

Very little is known relating to which Indian groups lived here in pre-history. Most of the known habitation in this area was by the Chumash people. It is estimated that as many as 40,000 Chumash lived in the area 1,000 years prior to the Spanish arriving. Then the Missions arrived, the miners, and then the farmers. Each group contributing to the systematic annihilation of most of the Chumash.

Placed my phone next to this one for scale. Had I realized that the screen was no nasty, I would have wiped it off first.

Some distance away, I found this. I'm absolutely sure they nobody gives this spot a second look, probably not even a first. It is called midden. It's the ancient equivalent of a trash/garbage pit. There were even some small shards of pottery on the surface of this one.

 There were so many pelicans flying around, that I had to get at least one photo.

I don't know if I've ever seen a turkey vulture coasting along over the ocean before.

I don't know who exactly to give credit for the following three photos to. I found them via Google.
Most of the areas in the first several photos where you see beach front, is most likely not made of sand, but of this. On any given day, you will see people digging through the sand/rocks for moonstones.

 These are unpolished moonstones

These are polished moonstones. Apparently, it is a type of feldspar. When it forms, it does so in layers. Light reflects off the layers and causes the stone to glow. I believe that moonstone is considered a gem, but I'm not sure. 

If you are ever on the central California coast, this area is a must see.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Porcupine Wash Petroglyphs - JTNP

The Pinto Basin is about 250 square miles of what most people would refer to as barren and desolate desert. The main park road skirts the edge of it, but rarely does a car stop for anything more than a quick glimpse around. At first glance, you would think it to be a very formidable wilderness. You wouldn't be wrong in the slightest bit. Especially so, during the summer months. This is the hottest and driest area in the park, and those conditions have cost people their lives. I believe three in the past year alone.

The basin is outlined in red. The three surrounding mountain ranges are also desolate. It's hard to believe now, but this area was once lush, swampy, and even had water flowing through it. Clearly, that was a long time ago.

In almost all cases in the desert, where there was water, there was also people. It was no different here. They didn't leave a lot of evidence, but they did leave some! We'll get to that in a minute. First, a few pics of the beautiful (in my eyes) scenery.

embiggen this one

Now to the petroglyphs. We were traveling down Porcupine Wash (still in Pinto Basin), keeping this rock jumble on our right. Our destination is that dark rock (that looks like Pac-Man) just to the left of center.



 There! If you saw my last post, you will see that the petroglyphs on this rock very much resemble the ones included there. These are in much better condition. In additions to the barbells, please note the faint "sunburst" image near the brush on the right side of the photo.

 There was also a nearby rock shelter. There was soot on the overhanging rock to the right. I don't know when this spot was last used, but I'm pretty sure it was a long long time ago.

 My favorite find of the day was this fossilized shell. I believe it's a freshwater snail (fossil) I was amazed that it was still intact. I moved it into a safer spot and hope it survives for a lot longer.

 In the middle of this photo, you can see my wife exploring.

 I believe this rock material is called Hornblende. 

 It wasn't easy getting into the middle of this jumble of rocks, but there I am.

Yours truly...

Mammal fossils relating back to the stone age have been found in the Pinto Basin. Also, traces of very early human presence.